Friday, July 20, 2012

Chicago-Style Pizza in the Dutch Oven

On our recent trip back to Indiana, we stopped over for a night with our friend in Chicago, and she treated us to a Chicago-style pizza dinner.  It’s bigger and heftier than most pizzas, with a sauced-up crust on top as well as on the bottom.  Oh, it was sooooo good and so filling.  I loved it, and I knew instantly that I had to try doing it in the Dutch oven.  It took me awhile to get around to it, but here it is.

I got a book while there called “The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook.  I followed the crust recipe very closely, but the toppings and things I experimented with a bit, based on some of the ideas in the book.  I doubled the crust recipe and made two different pies, each with unique fillings.  I liked both of the ones I did.

It was drizzly and rainy, so I had to rig a little shelter for my ovens.  I was also concerned with the cooking time, because the pizza was so much thicker than pizzas I’d cooked before.  Between all of that, I ended up cooking it too long  The bottom crust was singed, and the top was overly brown as well.  It had a bit of a burned taste.  It wasn’t charred black, but it was overdone. When I do it again, I’ll cook it less, and that will be reflected in the instructions below.

Chicago-Style Pizza in the Dutch Oven

12” Dutch oven

10-12 coals below
18-22 coals above

The Crust

3 tsp Sugar
2 Tbsp active dry Yeast
1 ¼ Cups warm Water
3-4 Cups bread Flour
3 tsp Salt
(Optional) ½ Tbsp vital wheat Gluten or 3 Tbsp Dough Enhancer
4 Tbsp Olive Oil

The Fillings

4 oz shredded mozarella
(The remaining fillings are optional, but the more, the merrier)
½ lb mild or medium italian sausage
cubed Ham
Pepperoni slices
Onions, diced
Green Peppers, diced
Roma Tomatoes, diced
Baby Spinach leaves, julienned
Black Olives, chopped
Fresh Mushrooms
Whatever else you like

The Sauce

1 can Tomato Paste
1 can Tomato Sauce
2 fresh Roma Tomatoes, diced
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
Liberal Shakes of
4 oz shredded mozarella

The adventure began that morning, early, before church when I made the bread dough.  I did the process essentially like every other bread dough I’ve done.  I mixed the sugar, the yeast, and the water.  I did that a little more carefully this time, however, because I wanted to keep it at about 110-115 degrees F.  So, I poured in the hot/warm water a bit at a time and monitored the temperature as the sugar dissolved, adding hotter water to keep it “in the zone”.  It rewarded me by foaming up quite nicely.

I sifted the dry ingredients together, starting with just the three cups of flour.  The rest I would add during kneading.  The bread flour I’ve got is getting a bit old, so I added the vital gluten powder.  It helped it in the kneading.

Then, I mixed in the wet ingredients and kneaded it on the table top adding flour onto it as needed to make it not so sticky (yet still soft).

The last cookoff I judged, I got to visit with one of the other judges (who I had actually met at the World Championship). He’s a baker by trade, and he had some good advice.  He said when doing a windowpane (, don’t stretch it out paper thin, but just enough to let light through.  If you knead until it doesn’t break, paper thin, he said, it’s overkneaded and it won’t poof up.  Reinhart says it’s tough to overknead when you’re doing it by hand.  I tried it anyway, and kneaded only until it would stretch out translucent.

I set it aside to rise, but since I was going to be doing church stuff for a long time, I set it in the fridge.

When I came home, I pulled the dough out of the fridge first.  It had risen up very nicely.  I guess he was right!  I punched it down and cut it into halves, which I formed into small boules.  I set these aside to both proof and to come up to room temperature.

Then, I started up the coals and as soon as they were ready, I put the dutch ovens (remember, I did two), on about 20+ coals each.  I put the sausage in and browned it, separating it into small chunks as I went.  While I was doing that, I was also chopping up the onions, peppers, and other fillings.

I also got some more coals started, and put about 20 or so hot coals on each lid to begin pre-heating.

Once the sausage was browned, I scooped it out.  I added a little bit of garlic powder, salt, and olive oil to the Dutch oven and spread that around the bottom.  That and the sausage flavoring would give the crust a great taste!  I stretched out the dough, pretty evenly, and spread it over the bottom of the Dutch oven.  I tried to press it up the sides as much as possible, but it didn’t really respond.  I took a fork and poked holes in the crust about every inch or so.  I’m still not sure why the instructions said to do that.

The instructions said to “Parbake” the crust, or, in other words, to bake it a bit before you add the fillings and bake it for real.  At the time I wasn’t sure why you would do that, but later I realized that there is going to be a lot of food on the crust.  It will be thick and heavy.  In order for that bottom crust to stand up, it needs to have some poof and structure first.

So, after the crust was spread, I put the heated lid on and put about 8 coals below and 18 coals above.  I let that bake for only a few minutes.  I would recommend checking it after about 10-12.  The crust should be a bit firm, but not browned.  While that was baking, I made the sauce.  The sauce was easy, I just mixed everything (except the Mozarella) and blended it to taste in a bowl.

Then, I brought the Dutch ovens back in and put the fillings of choice in each one.  I started with a layer of the mozarella and then just added everything else.  In each one, I did cubed ham, pepperoni, and the sausage I’d cooked.  I actually quartered the pepperoni slices, too, to make them more like chunks.  In one, then, I added onions and peppers, and in the other I put the spinach and the tomatoes.  I kept the fillings away from the edge of the crust.

Then, I stretched out the remaining dough balls and laid them on top.  I reached under and pinched the two crusts together, all around the circle.  I pressed on the top to kind of spread it back out to the edge of the Dutch oven, and spread the sauce on the top.  Finally, I layered on more mozarella.

Once these Dutch ovens were ready, I put them on and under the coals and let them bake, turning them from time to time.  This is where I went wrong.  I wasn’t sure, because of the thickness of the whole pie, how to tell when it was done.  I stuck in a thermometer, but the interior fillings heat at a different rate.  The side crust baked readily, but the top still looked soft when I poked it through the sauce.  I just wasn’t sure, so I left it on, probably for about a total of almost an hour.

It was too much.  Next time, I’ll do it this way:  I’ll bake it for about 15 minutes, without the sauce on.  Then, I’ll check it.  If it’s getting done and progressing nicely, I’ll add the sauce and the cheese, and bake it for another 15-20 minutes.  At that point, I’ll bet it’ll be done and ready.

In the end, it tasted great.  It was a bit overdone, and that affected the flavor, but it was still good.  I think that once I get the baking timing down, It will be amazing!

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dutch Oven Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

This Dutch oven recipe is included in my Dutch oven cookbook, "Around the World in a Dutch Oven"

Wow.  I’ve been sooo busy.  I just realized that it’s been two and a half weeks since I first posed this challenge: to deconstruct the basic, traditional American hamburger.

I need to start paying more attention to myself when I make these challenges.  I struggled with this one as well.  How to use all of those basic ingredients, and make it fresh and new.  Here they are:

  • Ground beef
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Cheddar (or plastic) cheese
  • Onions
  • Pickles
  • lettuce
  • Mayonnaise
  • And, of course, the bun

I bounced a number of ideas around in my head, and struggled with all of them.  On the way, I realized that there is one type of dish that is significantly underrepresented here at the Black Pot: The salad.

There’s a reason for that.  You usually don’t cook salads, and Dutch ovens are a pot for cooking things in.  I suppose you could throw some lettuce and sliced/chopped veggies into a Dutch oven, toss it with some dressing and serve it as is!

Still, you can cook some elements of a salad.  That’s one reason I love big chef’s salads.  With meat, veggies and seasonings, they can be a whole meal themselves.  So, that’s why I decided to try this one that way.  The hamburger salad!

The lettuce goes from simple topping, then, to the basis of the dish.  The meat, on the other hand, becomes the topping!  What about the bun?  I turned that into croutons!  The sauces of the hamburger (ketchup, mustard, mayo) combined with other spices to make a dressing for both the meat and the rest of the salad.

Dutch Oven Deconstructed Hamburger Salad

Meat and sauce

12” Dutch Oven
22 coals below

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • pepper

  • ½  cup Ketchup
  • ~3 Tbsp Mustard
  • ~2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp dill relish
  • cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper


12” Dutch Oven

10-12 coals below
14-16 coals above

  • 4-6 hamburger buns
  • 1 stick butter
  • Seasoning Salt
  • pepper

The Salad

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce (or other greens)
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • Grated cheddar cheese

Of all the elements for this dish, I was the least confident in the croutons, so I started with those.  I lit up some coals and, when they got white, I put them under one of the 12” Dutch ovens.  I put in the butter to melt, while slicing up the buns.  I did them in long, narrow strips, almost looking like french fries.  I think that next time, I’ll just cube them, so they look a little more like traditional croutons.  They’ll be easier to stir and handle.

Once the butter had melted, I shook in a liberal amount of the seasoning salt, maybe a teaspoon’s worth or so.  I added the pepper the same way, maybe a little less.  I tossed in the sliced bread and just stirred it thoroughly to coat each piece in butter and seasoning.

I actually had fewer coals on as I started, but I could soon see that it needed to be hotter to get the toasty brown I wanted.  So, I upped the numbers, as they’re written above.  I just kept the lid on and stirred them frequently to keep them browning, but not burning.

I got some more coals under another 12” Dutch oven, and diced the onions and minced the garlic.  I poured in some olive oil to heat up, then tossed in the garlic and onions with a little salt.  They started sizzling immediately, and I let them saute.

When they were getting a bit brown, I put in the meat to brown as well.

While that was cooking, I mixed up the sauce.  I started with the ketchup, and that was really the only one that I measured.  The rest I just mixed in and tasted as I went.  I was simply striving for a balance of flavors.

I stirred it up, then poured it in with the meat.  I stirred that, and let it cook for a little, but not much.  I wanted it to be a part of the meat, but not to evaporate or reduce.

Finally, the meat was done, the croutons were nicely roasted and brown, and it was time to assemble the salad

I started by shredding the lettuce and dicing the tomatoes.  I used the lettuce as the base of the dish, then added tomatoes on top.  I spooned some meat liberally over the base, and sprinkled some croutons on top of that.  Finally, I topped it by grating some cheddar on top.

My whole family pronounced this one a success!  I was pleased, too, not only because I enjoyed the taste, but that it was a new take on the burger (for me, anyway), and yet it still maintained a lot of the original burger taste. It had some salty and sour tones, and some sweet from the ketchup in the sauce.  The lettuce, of course, had a hint of bitter tone, and its texture made it feel like a salad.

Here are more cast iron dutch oven recipes, and Dutch oven cooking.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Dutch Oven TV Spots, and other events!

This week has been a fun and busy Dutch oven week!

Last Tuesday, I had a remarkable opportunity!  I was able to do a cooking demo live on TV!  As a part of Channel 2's noontime news show, I got to show how to make Chicken Wrapped Bacon!  Here's a link to the video of the event!

It was lots of fun to do.  I was pretty nervous.  I have done TV interviews before, but never when I was cooking.  Still, I think it came off ok! You be the judge.

Then, on the weekend, I got to go to the West Jordan Stampede and help the Storm Mountain Chapter of IDOS do demos for the passers-by.  I did Chicken and Potatoes, and Pizza, both from the book.  I also got to judge the cookoff, doing the breads.  My friend Andy from was there, also, judging for his first time.  Then, later that evening, his wonderful wife gave birth to his wonderful baby!  Congrats to Andy!

Then, today, I made my version of the Deconstructed Hamburger.  It turned out great, and I'll include that recipe as a separate posting.

Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


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